Hans Liska was born on 19 November 1907 in Vienna, Austria. After graduating from business school and working as an accountant, he went to the University of Applied Arts in Vienna as a pupil of Berthold Löffler – A friend of Oskar Kokoschka.

He came to the decision to become a graphic artist after an American charity gave him drawing supplies. Directly from the School of Applied Arts, due to his exceptional abilities, he was invited to St. Gallen, Switzerland, to become the studio head of a big advertising agency. At the same time he took English lessons at James Joyce.

The young Hans Liska

Once he had saved enough money, he continued his studies at the School of Applied Arts in Munich under Emil Pretoius and Walter Deutsch.

Eventually he got his big break through – The beginning of his illustrious career: The world famous Berliner Illustrierte published one of Liska’s drawings in the New Year’s edition 1932/1933 (A few months later, the editor-in-chief at the time founded the Magazine Life). Liska’s childhood dream to become a press illustrator had finally come true. He was contracted by the publishing house Ullstein Verlag contracted him and this enabled him to further his studies at the School of Applied Arts in Berlin.

Hans Liska obtained worldwide recognition for his pencil sketches, published by Ullstein Verlag for many years. His sketch book on the Second World War remains to be a coveted collector’s item. Always drawing, he experienced firsthand important historical events including World War II, the Olympic Games, the royal funeral in London and Windsor and car races in the USA. With a pen and a pencil, he was able to capture what the camera angles couldn’t contain.

In the post-war years, Liska went to Franconia (southern Germany), where he found his second home, together with his wife Elisabeth, in Scheßlitz. There, he founded the Magazine Quick, together with press photographer Hilmar Pabel, in Wattendorf. In the economically rising Germany, Hans Liska principally worked in advertising for the automobile industry, mainly with Daimler-Benz for nine years. He also had clients like the Cologne based firms Ford and Mülhens, creating advertising art like the famous painting of a horseman, writing the numbers 4711 on the house wall of fragrance company Ferdinand Mülhens. Other clients included Kaufhof-AG, DEGUSSA, Märklin, Quelle, Farbwerke Höchst, Lederer-Bräu und Schlenkerla-Bamberg, to name a few. From 1960 onwards, he produced his city and landscape books with sketches from Salzburg, Bamberg, Cologne, Kulmbach and Franconia. Around 1970, the porcelain company Kaiser in Bad Staffelstein launched a series of jars, bowls and mainly plates with more than 200 Liska motifs of the cities Königsberg, Gdansk, Breslau, Berlin, Munich, Aachen, Bamberg, among others. Furthermore, his oeuvre includes his illustrated travel accounts, which contain the exceptional drawings of atmospheric flamenco dancing and bull fighting.

Hans Liska possessed a limitless curiosity, constantly trying to capture the essence of reality, people and things. With his incomparable talent for individuality and critical scepticism coupled with headstrong character that was defined by esprit and irony, he was an exceptional artist who always remained true to himself, never wavering.

He died on Boxing Day 1983, suddenly and unexpected in the midst of his artistic career while once again reciting one of his famous jokes.